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Just before the president, Congress and most of official Washington left town for August vacations, the White House announced an unexpected deal on a patients' bill of rights.

The announcement capped a good week for the Bush administration.

The president announced a compromise with the principal House Republican sponsor, Rep. Charlie Norwood, a Georgia dentist.

Under the deal, Bush agreed to open the door to more lawsuits than he wanted, but Norwood agreed to curtail the right to sue that was in the measure he and the Democrats had been backing.

"It does protect the patients of this country," said Norwood, who followed Bush to the White House podium for the late-afternoon announcement. "We have accomplished the very goals we set out to achieve."

House leaders rushed the measure to passage, a move that left Democrats sputtering.

The Senate has already passed a bill much more to the liking of the trial lawyers. The president has threatened to veto the Senate version.

There will be many twists and turns before the last chapter in this one is written.

Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, the wily foe of every Bush initiative, will have some tricks up his sleeve.

Still, Bush and the Republicans now can be for a patients' bill of rights that will probably pass muster with the American people.